Immunological Lessons from Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine Development

Immunity. 2019 Sep 17;51(3):429-442. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2019.08.007.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has eluded active vaccination efforts for more than five decades and continues to cause substantial morbidity and mortality in infants, the immunocompromised, and older adults. Although newer approaches of passive antibody-mediated protection show promise, vaccines aimed at eliciting fusion protein (F)-targeting antibodies have repeatedly failed to meet pre-established, modest-efficacy goals. Newer candidates, including protein-based vaccines, live-attenuated viruses, and gene-based delivery platforms, incorporate structurally defined and stabilized versions of the prefusion form of the F glycoprotein and are advancing rapidly into critical efficacy studies in susceptible target populations. This review discusses the storied history of RSV vaccine development, immunological lessons learned along the way, and critical findings about protein structure that remodeled our understanding of protective immunity to this important pathogen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / immunology*
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines
  • Viral Fusion Proteins